What Carolyn Sundquist Knew

Click image to view email in PDF

Carolyn Sundquist knew that Tuftonboro selectmen could not legally charge an hourly fee for responding to Right to Know requests and that the town could charge only for “copy/paper fees.” She knew this long before she, as chair of the selectmen’s board, initiated a lawsuit against Bob McWhirter and me in an attempt to charge us for inspecting government records. The lawsuit would eventually cost the taxpayers about $20,000 (and counting — I’ll update you next week).

In a February 2016 email the selectmen’s administrative secretary, Karen Koch, wrote to Carolyn: “In terms of town’s [sic] charging an hourly rate for any research to be done, it is illegal to do so.” Karen wrote that this was based on a conversation she had had with Margaret Burns of the New Hampshire Municipal Association, and that “the only things that towns can legally charge for are copy/paper fees.”

Indicating that she had read Karen’s email and understood its content, Carolyn replied on February 27, 2016: “Thanks for checking with NHMA regarding minutes and charging for research. Would you please redo the sheet that list [sic] the charges for copies in a compatible format for inclusion in the copy policy we just approved. Note the changes regarding emailed copies and whatever else would need explanation.”

Carolyn’s own words show that she clearly understood no fees could be charged for “emailed copies,” but she (along with the other two selectmen, Lloyd Wood and Bill Marcussen) attempted to charge Bob McWhirter and me 25 cents per page to inspect emails. When we refused to pay that illegal fee (given the number of emails, it would’ve amounted to thousands of dollars), the selectmen sent sheriff’s deputies to our houses on a Sunday morning to serve us with a lawsuit.

As a result, we were forced to hire an attorney, a great expense, and to defend ourselves not only in Carroll County Superior Court but also in the court of public opinion. Just last week, the selectmen’s attorney, Richard Sager, publicly slandered Bob McWhirter in a Facebook post on the Tuftonboro Free Speech Forum Facebook group, which any resident of Tuftonboro can join: “Bob tags along behind Max like a little puppy dog, impugning my character by suggesting I would ever consider hiding ‘SECRET’ information. Get a life.” Sager then blamed Bob and me for the $20,000 that the selectmen paid Sager for the lawsuit and asserted that producing the emails was a “considerable expense to the town.” This is false, and Sager knows it’s false. Judge Amy Ignatius ruled on August 8 that there was no cost to the town for producing the emails.

 

The above-mentioned email, which the selectmen finally turned over to me last week, strongly suggests that Carolyn (and maybe Lloyd and Bill as well) acted in bad faith when suing us: They were attempting to collect a fee that Carolyn knew to be illegal.

Carolyn, Bill, and Lloyd are responsible for wasting around $20,000 in taxpayer money. Bob and I exercised our constitutional and statutory Right to Know, and we defended ourselves when the selectmen launched an abusive lawsuit against us.

Published in Opinion
Max Ledoux

Author: Max Ledoux

I've lived in Tuftonboro since 2014. I grew up in Lisbon Falls, Maine (the Moxie capital of the world). I run tuftonboro.net. If you'd like your own blog here, click the "Get Free Blog" link in the menu at the top of the page. Everyone is welcome to write about anything they like.

11 thoughts on “What Carolyn Sundquist Knew”

  1. Here we go again. You, Max. and Bob could have resolved this if ego’s did not get in the way before it got out of hand. Your “I gottcha” mentality needs to change and you need to start working with the Selectmen. If you find something wrong then report it, work with them like an adult and resolve it before it costs me more money. Thanks for being our watchdog Max. Remember you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

  2. How is this Max’s fault? Carolyn clearly misrepresented the facts, not by omission or mistake but overtly. Why did she do this? I’m glad they took her to task and hopefully the other two perpetrators will be censured for this as well. Max exersized his right and it was denied him through machinations. We aren’t done paying legal fees as the Brown road debacle is yet to come up. Another costly Carolyn, queen of Tuftonboro edict.

  3. Good job Max, Keep up your gottcha mentality. After awhile it will start to make people think twice before acting. I can hope anyway. I’m sure you will find more embarrassing stuff before this is over. Your demeanor is polite and respectful. Others attempt to degrade you hoping they still have the majority. I can attest to the fact that they are starting to loose that majority.

  4. Good comments Ray and John. Max. is doing a great job being our watchdog as I have stated several times. To answer your question John on how is this Max’s fault, it is not his entirely. Both sides of this issue let ego’s drive their decisions. What I hope will come of this disaster is every time there is an issue that it does not cost us taxpayers 20+K. Max needs to work with the Selectmen rather than trying to corner them on issues. I hope Max. continues to find the dirt which I am confident exists with at least two of our current selectmen however not cost us 20K every time he finds something.

  5. I have asked the selectmen repeatedly to develop a proactive approach to 91-A requests. I’ve also repeatedly asked them not to pay Sager $175 to redact emails. I am not responsible for their actions.

  6. Max you are responsible for this issue. If your ego did not get in the way you could have resolved this with them. YOU chose not to thus you are responsible for this 20K bill. I know you will never admit that so lets end this with you and I agree to disagree.

  7. Chin up Max! As you know I paid $6.40 for the paper copies of the e-mails which exposed Carolyn’s illegal advice to the Steinman’s on the Brown Road/ Lower Beech Pond issue. Thus, the Selectmen go to court again. Rick can blame me this time and I’ll be damned proud of it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *